Believe it or not, there was a time when death metal didn’t have 2,060 different strains and most of it came from a select few geographical areas. For those of us that recall and/or experienced that time knows that while the genre was death metal, the Floridian strain particularly was a shit ton of fun to listen to because of its simplicity, groove, seriously thick bottom end, and very memorable tracks; the music served the songs and the songs served the music. When Inhuman Condition released their debut Rat God last year, it was clear THEY remembered and consequently put out one of the best straight ahead, no frills death metal albums of 2021 and it was of the Floridian strain which hasn’t been very successfully trodden in years. And now with Fearsick, they pile on with sicker riffs, heavier groove, and some serious swamp ass attitude. You may decide to flip the page now since you know where my head’s at on this one, and that’s ok, but I’m sticking to my guns and confident at least one of you will soldier on (thanks mom).
By now, most know the story behind Inhuman Condition. If not, Rat God and part of Fearsick was to be the massive Massacre comeback album but membership did as it does sometimes and the need for a new band arose. And, I’ll add, Massacre did that comeback album aaaand while it was very good, it didn’t exactly hit those same old school Florida-bred marks I expected. So, Terry Butler, Taylor Nordberg, and Jeramie Kling struck out armed with serious knowledge of the past and some serious jams they had already pretty much written, and put out Rat God. Which, sounded like the perfect successor to Massacre’s 1991 From Beyond. If you know, you know, but if you don’t, From Beyond is a masterpiece. So, forming a new band and releasing a ‘perfect successor’ is exemplary, to say the least. It was an album built on simple yet damn effective death metal that was like slipping on your favorite old tshirt; sweat stains, holes, and all.
Fast forward a year and Fearsick is, yet again, a perfect successor, but this time to Rat God. The melodies and humid grooves are here in droves, see opener “The Mold Testament” and “King Con” for a textbook example of ‘schooling you in classic Floridian death metal.’ Ass kickers also abound in the form of “Caustic Vomit Reveries” and its no holds barred approach to speed and venom and “Recycled Hate” sounds like the equivalent to being punched in the face with barbed wire laced brass knuckles…and liking it enough to express some thanks for the violence. “Wound Collector” opens with a sick rolling riff then batters with an Obituaryesque stomp and metaphorically we’re right back in the late 80s / early 90s when death metal was, as I said before, fun and simple. Sure, there’s technicality and a great amount of skill present in every song here so don’t twist up the ‘simple and fun’ statement. The amount of pure caveman groove in this and their previous album is insane. I keep harping on this but look, I’m a fan of all things extreme and find value in tough listens, technical acrobatics, wankery for the sake of it, and forward thinking songcraft, but am a bigger fan and find sentimental solace in simpler death metal that, for lack of a better string of words, just whips ass. And this does that in spades.
Going back to ‘some of this material was technically for the Massacre comeback album’; the fact that it’s nearly impossible to tell which songs were meant for that project and which songs are 100% intended for Inhuman Condition just makes it even better. After hearing the debut, there’s no doubt as to who this band is, but now that we’ve heard them as pure as can be and it all holds up without being something completely different just speaks to the kind of students and stewards of tried and true death metal, and of the Floridian variety, these band members are. Indeed they’ve all done time under legendary banners and have had exceptional careers with other exceptional bands, but now they are carving their own path, their way, and it rules. Any band(s) or album(s) that can convincingly recall seminal releases like Spiritual Healing, Slowly We Rot, and of course From Beyond while keeping things fresh and brimming with new life is an absolute winner and this band has done it twice now.
Inhuman Condition just get it. Period. They know how to put together some incredibly good and memorable songs and they know how to make them crunch like a gator’s bite through its prey’s bones. Fearsick is an album that is partially a fond trip down memory lane but bigger picture it’s an album that celebrates a band that’s breathing new and ferocious life into a specific era of time and a specific geographical area of death metal importance that hasn’t had a true champion in a very long time. There’s plenty of bands out there that are breaking molds and pushing the genre beyond the stratosphere and plenty of them are very good so there’s no shortage of that. However, it’s a relief to know that in 2022 we have a new champion of the kind of death metal that over the years has forced fans to revisit the classics to experience.